Swift’s “1989” pops

Margaret Geist, A&E Editor

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If you were to ask any regular Joe walking on the street to predict the content of Taylor Swift’s newest album, the general consensus of responses would be relatively the same. The Swift stereotype set up by past albums is pretty well-known – she’ll complain about failed love and threaten revenge. Swift’s new album is different.

“1989,” named aptly for the year she was born and the year of music she stylistically attempted to mirror, is pop through and through. Swift drew inspiration from Madonna’s “Like a  Prayer” as well as Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” and weaved the 80’s influence into her own lyrics, recruiting producer Max Martin and Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff to polish off the tracks.

This process is illustrated in “How You Get the Girl,” which sounds like a radio hit for a teen drama, with all the pep and enthusiasm of a cheerleader’s chant. “Style,” radio hit “Shake It Off” and “Welcome to New York” are three carefree dance anthems soon to be overplayed by every popular radio station and teenager in America.

Underlying musical fragments in “I Wish You Would” and “Welcome to New York” take listeners back to the 80s party pop sound of a-ha and Peter Gabriel. Swift’s use of catchy lyrics and rally cries mixed with synth rhythms and clappable beats make for an album of dance hits.

Swift takes this album in a completely different direction than any album before. Steering clear of “woe is me,” post-breakup songs, she shifts toward a devil-may-care attitude which works for her incredibly well. Swift shows great maturity on this album, projecting messages through “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood” that every fan of hers would hold near and dear to her heart. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, Swift illustrates a sort of carefree nature, refusing to sweat the small stuff and just go with the flow. Even in “All You Had To Do Was Stay,” Swift refrains from begging or pleading a past lover to come back. This song is another sleepover jam, with lyrics written to be yelled by girls in feather boas letting go of a past boyfriend and moving on. This tune is very similar to “22,” an anthem off of her last album, with its title being chanted and a fun high note towards the end.

Swift’s newfound maturity is also showcased when she explores slightly darker themes in “Out of the Woods” and “I Know Places.” These songs have more of an alternative feel to them, with digital pianos and rhythmic beats reminiscent of bands like Depeche Mode and Fun. Her lyrics have evolved as well-Swift swears several times and suggests possible ‘bad girl behavior’ in quite a few tracks, almost unheard of for the ‘good girl’.

In songs like “Wildest Dreams” and “Clean,” Swift’s songs mix alternative with pop, and sound eerily like the work of her BFF Lorde. Swift’s voice is shrill and slow in these two, and the production makes her voice sound muted, as if underwater. She uses these tools to her advantage in “This Love” as well, giving these three songs a dreamlike quality.

Swift’s music has always had fluidity to it. She has said in countless interviews that she gathers inspiration from just about everything. From the city around her to musicians she is a fan of, Swift’s music mixes everything she loves into a watercolor painting of creativity and art. “1989” is an album that brings pop back to its roots, with funky instrumentals, emotive lyrics and danceable beats.

 

 

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